Kyler Murray may go first overall in the draft next week and he’d be the second quarterback in a row to go from being coached by Lincoln Riley at Oklahoma to being the top selection.
Murray didn’t have much of a decision to make about entering the draft this year because he would have gone to play baseball with the Oakland A’s if he’d opted not to continue his football career. Other players have more difficult choices to make when it comes to staying at Oklahoma and Riley explained the role he tries to play in that process during a recent interview with Mike Florio of PFT.
“I just try and be brutally honest with them,” Riley said. “You can’t bring them in there and tell them what they want to hear or just what you want to tell them. It’s got to be the truth. If you’re truthful and transparent with them their whole way through, you’ll build trust in that relationship and they’ll listen to your opinion. At the end of the day, they’ve got to make the decision. We also use a lot of numbers and research to back up what we’re talking about and, at the end of the day, we want guys to do well.”
Riley used tackle Cody Ford as an example of how that plays out.
“If we had really strongly advised Cody to stay, he would have,” Riley said. “But that wasn’t going to be the best thing for Cody. He’s going to be a first-round pick. Every part of it makes sense for him to go ahead and go to the NFL even though it would help our team [if he stayed] next year.”
Losing players like Murray, Ford and Baker Mayfield may not help the Sooners on the field, but turning out pro players year after year ensures that the pipeline of talent will keep making deposits to Riley’s roster.